CLEARWATER, Florida -- It started out as a day with so much joy and hope but officials with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium say it ended in heartache.
Just three hours after releasing a bottlenose dolphin back into the wild, it was attacked by sharks and euthanized a short time later.
"We're at a loss for words," said Diane Young with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
Dunham, as the dolphin was called, turned up last December near Anclote Key. Officials say he was sick and emaciated, but after months of rehab he was ready to be returned to the Gulf.
Jeni Hatter, the spokeswoman for the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, says Dunham was attacked twice by at least two different sharks after he was released Tuesday morning. Hatter says several scientists were monitoring Dunham with a VHF radio transmitter at the time he was attacked.
"It went from a very glamorous day to a very tragic day very quickly" said David Yates the CEO of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
Brent Winner with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says shark don't normally attack a healthy dolphin, but he says they will occasionally go after a sick or injured one.
"The reality is in Tampa Bay or in Florida there are sharks in the water and they are there all year round, various species, various sizes and doing what sharks do" Winner said.
Officials with Clearwater Marine Aquarium say this is the 11th documented shark attack on a dolphin since 2006. LINK